Winter with babies and toddlers can be hard. Or at least harder than in the warmer seasons. Getting two babies in coats, hats, gloves, car seats and making sure they have their blankie, water and snack is a chore sometimes. What no snack, every time you get in the car? Ok, maybe that’s just us as “snack” as become Lulu’s favorite word.
Anyway, as you can imagine, it’s work. And I need a diaper bag too. Which must be packed and include all the necessities: diapers, wipes, bottles, and formula for Linc, and a few toys and potentially an emergency binky. Going in and out of stores, in and out of the car, makes the kids crazy. And the adage is true, at least for me, I can’t go into Target and spend less than $100 and sadly sometimes $200. Target takes all my money. And to be honest, lately, I’m losing or forgetting everything. Twice in the last month, I’ve gone into Target without my wallet. There’s too many lists, to-dos and reminders on my mind that I’m missing the basics.
As I’ve said before, my kids watch tv, but limiting tv is important to me. I don’t want baby zombies. I don’t want it to be an all-day thing, a crutch or a babysitter. If the tv is on, I want Linc and Lulu to be engaging with the activity. Learning songs and nursery rhymes on Little Baby Bum or dancing with Dave and Ava for a short amount of time, that’s ok, but getting lost in all the seasons of Princess Sofia or P.J. Masks, not how I want my babies spending their days.
So, to help me stay engaged with my kids and avoid TV for them and Target for me (T&T) I’ve come up with my top winter activities as a reminder to me and Miss D. so we don’t get stuck in a TV rut or a Target run just because it’s cold.
So here it is!
The local Library. We love story and music time. This one does require us to leave the house, but I believe it brings so many benefits to my kid’s life. The kids go to as many classes as they can a week. They got to baby story time for Linc and stay for the bigger kid’s classes for Lulu. We live in a small town. And these classes exist. My guess is no matter where you live the closest library in your community offers something. And if it doesn’t, talk to them. Maybe you can help bring story time to your community. If you’re looking for something like this, it’s a guarantee that other mamas in your community are too!
Barnes & Noble. Do you have a local bookstore? If so, they probably have a story time for kids. And if not, they probably have a kid book section to explore. We love the Barnes & Noble story time. They normally have a craft, activity or take away that relates to the story, and near and dear to Lulu’s heart – they have a snack. If you have a Barnes & Noble, check online and see when they offer story time and check it out. It will be great for your kids, but also good for you. Who couldn’t use a few new mama friends?
Children’s museums. We are blessed and have a wonderful children’s museum in town. It’s a fun place for the kids to check out some toys and learn some things we don’t have at home. They have a huge play fire truck, a supermarket, a diner, a place to dig for dinosaurs, Mangatiles, and a play area for Linc with soft blocks, a ball pit and abacus style toy walls. Linc and Lulu were gifted with a year membership. It was so worth the money, and it was great for me that they got a non-toy gift. Check out your local park district and see if you have something similar, or if your park district offers classes, events or workshops for your kids and babies. We try to go to our local Exploration Station once a week.
Painting crafts. My kids love art time. And I love that my fridge is covered with their masterpieces. Pinterest is full of ideas of things to do with kids. I have a board dedicated to activities for my kids to try and I share the board with Miss D. They can spend time learning fine motor skills, sharing, and sometimes getting messy. They’ve painted pictures, ornaments, wood crafts from the $1 section at Target and the dollar store. Believe me, the mess is worth it and can be contained when necessary.
Parks and outside adventures. We live outside of Chicago. It gets cold and we get a lot of snow. It’s not quite December and there is already snow on the ground. But that doesn’t mean we need to hibernate completely. We still try to go for walks, be outside and plan to play in the snow. Park time might be shorter but it’s still fun to build a snowman and make snow angels, write messages in the snow, and paint the snow bright colors. And who wouldn’t love some warm hot chocolate afterward? And of course, we can’t forget a snack.
Edible play dough. This is one we haven’t tried yet, but it’s in the plans for this weekend. I don’t have to worry about them putting it in their mouths (because they will) like regular play dough. We will make it colorful, get out the cookie cutters and enjoy the time together. Here’s the recipe I’m planning to try. it doesn’t require a lot of ingredients or a trip to Target, which is why I picked it. Do you have a recipe you like? Do you make slime or play dough or another sensory craft for your kids?
Making Christmas gifts. Similar to the painting crafts, but who doesn’t love a homemade gift? Even my dad gets a little sentimental when Lulu hands him a wrapped gift she made herself. The kids can make ornaments out of beads or their handprints, they can make snowmen out of cotton balls and reindeer out of clothespins. Check out what we might be making this holiday season here on my Linc & Lulu – Christmas Craft Pinterest board.
Baking cookies, bread, and candy. I love to make Christmas cookies and it’s fun to involve the kids. Lulu loves to help in the kitchen and Linc is happy just playing in the high chair beside us. We plan to make cookies this year to share with our family at all our holiday parties. It’s one of our favorite traditions. Here are some of my favorite Christmas cookie recipes. Mine aren’t always this pretty, but they always taste good! What are your favorite Christmas cookies? Do you do a cookie swap? I’ve never done one, but the idea does intrigue me!
Play pretend. Expanding the kid’s imagination is so important in their little years. I want them to play in a box, spend time in the teepee, play with the kitchen, take care of all the babies and have fun with doll houses. They need to be able to entertain themselves. Have some independent play, and not need me, the TV or Miss D doing all the entertaining for them. It’s going to help with their independence, their creativity, and their contentment as they get older. I even save/hide toys for a rainy day. In fact, yesterday my kids opened a Christmas present from last year! I felt a little guilty but the joy on their faces getting a new toy made it worth it. And at this age, they had no idea what they were missing these last 11 months. And bonus for me, a new toy didn’t cost a thing.
Bring the outside toys in. We inadvertently turned our sunroom into a playroom in the new house. Moving from the condo to a house, we just didn’t have the furniture to fill it on day one, so it became the place where we keep the big toys. It was great this summer and fall, but now that it’s cold, it’s not as easy to play out there as often, so on occasion, we bring the toys in. This won’t work for everything, but for us, it’s working and it’s a nice way to change it up and it keeps Lulu from climbing on the furniture for at least 5 minutes!
Dance Party. Hearing Lulu try and say, “Alexa play wheels on the bus” is the highlight of my day. The things she picks up from us astounds me! I know they say kids are always listening, and it’s so true! My kids love music, dancing, and singing. And I’m happy to make it available to them. We have Alexa’s all over the house we can take the music with us. Music and dance are helping Lulu with her vocabulary, her memorization, her hand-eye coordination, and her gross motor skills. And for Linc, it’s great for him to hear the melodies and be exposed to the words, animal sounds and body parts. Current faves: Baby Shark by Ping Fong, Cedarmont Kids songs, Disney Hits, and Tooty Ta.
Snuggle – and most importantly, this winter I just want to take breaks, forget the laundry and the dishes, forget about work and just snuggle. I know the time that they are babies and will sit on my lap and rock and snuggle is limited. It’s already getting hard with Lulu and she’s not even 2. So, in this holiday season more than ever I want to make time to bury ourselves under blankets and snuggle, rock my babies to sleep, and just enjoy the sweet baby smell.
How do you plan to survive the winter with your kiddos? What activities will you be doing? Anything I may have missed? Let me know how you do winter in your town. I’d love ideas to add to our list or new areas in our little town to explore.
Next week I’ll be sharing our Christmas traditions/activities we plan to do and start this year with the kids. As they are starting to move out of the baby stage and into the little people stage, it’s so important to me that we have these traditions in place. Let me know if you have any ideas/must dos I should add to my list!